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June 29, 2010

U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) inspections show that many of the kitchens that produce food for the airlines have serious sanitation or food handling safety problems, according to an article in USA Today.

FDA inspectors found violations such as poor hygiene of the employees, inadequate pest control resulting in infestations of mice, rats and bugs, unsanitary equipment and food storage temperatures that were too high. Some kitchens tested positive for dangerous forms of bacteria, which can cause outbreaks of serious and sometimes fatal food borne illnesses.

USA Today obtained the FDA inspection reports for three of the biggest airline caterers, LSG Sky Chefs, Gate Gourmet and Flying Food Group, through the Freedom of Information Act. The news source requested inspection records since January 2009 and as of Friday had received reports for 46 of the 91 kitchens. 27 facilities in those records contained food safety violations.

"In spite of best efforts by the FDA and industry, the situation with in-flight catered foods is disturbing, getting worse and now poses a real risk of illness and injury to tens of thousands of airline passengers on a daily basis," Roy Costa, a consultant and public health sanitarian, told USA Today.

The three caterers prepare over 400 million meals each year in their 91 kitchens, supplying them to major airlines including American, Delta, Continental, United and US Airways.

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